Fröhlich, Samuel Heinrich (1803-1857)

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Samuel Heinrich Fröhlich, founder of the Apostolic Christian Church or Neutäufer, was born on 4 July 1803 at Brugg, canton of Aargau, Switzerland. He stemmed from a French Huguenot family named De Joyeux who fled from their homeland when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, and settled in Switzerland where they translated their name to Fröhlich.

Fröhlich studied theology at Basel and Zürich universities. He was ordained in the Reformed Church and served the congregations at Wagenhausen, canton of Thurgau, and Leutwil, canton of Aargau. Wherever he preached he caused a spiritual revival. In 1830 a catechism was put into use in the Reformed Church that he felt reflected a naturalistic or rationalistic religion to which he could not subscribe. The following year he was dismissed from the Reformed Church ministry. During this time he was in contact with the Continental Society of London who had missionaries in Geneva. In 1832 he was baptized by sprinkling by a missionary of this society. In 1831-1832 he made four missionary journeys through Switzerland. The first one was in Aargau. He preached to his former church at Leutwil as well as to others whom he could interest. The second journey was through the Bernese Oberland and the city of Bern, in July and August 1832. His  third missionary journey during August and September 1832 centered in the Emmental, where he preached to the Mennonite congregation. He found fertile ground for his teachings in the ministers Christen Gerber and Christen Baumgartner and some 61 other members of the congregation who felt that the spiritual life of their church was very low. During the following years they formed a new congregation. Fröhlich's contacts with the Mennonites also had an influence on him. He accepted their teaching on nonresistance. In October and November 1832 his fourth missionary journey took him to Zürich and eastern Switzerland. Here he met Susette Brunschwiler of Hauptwil, canton of Thurgau, whom he married in 1836. In January 1833, upon the invitation of the Continental Society of London, he went to England for a stay of five months. He then returned to the cantons of Aargau and Zürich where he preached and taught in the face of growing persecution from the state church authorities. In March 1843 he was expelled from Zürich as a sectarian. His marriage was never recognized by the Swiss authorities because it was not performed by a minister of the state church. Fröhlich moved to Strasbourg in June 1844 where he continued his activities of directing the work in Switzerland by letter and also by infrequent visits. He suffered much from sickness. He died on 15 January 1857. He held up to 450 meetings per year. Though he was often so weak that he had to be led to the pulpit, his strength always returned as soon as he began to preach. He wrote annually between 200 and 300 letters in duplicate besides keeping a diary. The grave of Samuel H. Fröhlich is marked to this day by a plain gravestone in the St. Helena Cemetery in Strasbourg.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 13.

Ruegger, Herman. Apostolic Christian Church History: Volume 1. Chicago, Ill: Apostolic Christian Pub. Co, 1949: 36-72.

Ruegger, Herman. Aufzeichnungen über Entstehung und Bekenntnis der Gemeinschaft Evangelisch Taufgesinnter. Zürich: Buchdruckerei Schulthess & Co, 1948.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies, 1936.

Author(s) Delbert L Gratz
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Gratz, Delbert L. "Fröhlich, Samuel Heinrich (1803-1857)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 25 Jul 2024.,_Samuel_Heinrich_(1803-1857)&oldid=145196.

APA style

Gratz, Delbert L. (1956). Fröhlich, Samuel Heinrich (1803-1857). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2024, from,_Samuel_Heinrich_(1803-1857)&oldid=145196.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 414-415. All rights reserved.

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